While there are definitely certain risk factors for breast cancer, it seems like the disease doesn't really discriminate. While younger diagnoses are more rare, they definitely occur. Take Keisha Scott, a woman from Washington, D.C., who was diagnosed at age 39 and underwent a double mastectomy last month.
When she was 35, her gynecologist referred her for a baseline mammogram screening. But she had been too afraid to get screened, having always heard that it was a painful procedure. Fast forward four years later, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Jennifer Aniston-Demi Moore-Alicia Keys Lifetime breast cancer film Five aired, and Giuliana Rancic was publicly discussing her battle with the disease. Keisha decided she had to make her appointment to get screened.
After being called back for a second screening and biopsy, her doctor cut to the chase, delivering the news: "I’m sorry, my dear, you have breast cancer.”
Keisha admits that since her diagnosis, she's had good days, weary days, angry days, and most of all, unsure days. But one thing has remained consistent: Her thought that had she gotten screened when she was 35 that her outcome may have been different. As a result, she is currently imploring women to get screened and talk to their doctors about early detection options.
As much as we hear about breast cancer in the media and as many Octobers that go by filled with pink ribbons and walks to raise money and awareness, sometimes it just doesn't click that we all -- regardless of age or family history -- should be aware of our breast health and taking preemptive steps to prevent a diagnosis like Keisha's. We can't let fear or indifference prevent us from beginning dialogues with our doctors. After all, as we can see from Keisha's story, it's communication and action that will ultimately save our lives.
How early do you plan to or did you begin getting screened?